One year's progress of the Chi campaign

(This article was originally published in The Horn Autumn 2015.  Author: Jill Capotosto, Communications Officer, TRAFFIC Viet Nam).

This year’s World Rhino Day, 22 September 2015, marked the one-year anniversary of TRAFFIC and SRI’s Chi Campaign in Viet Nam, but the story of this rhino horn demand reduction campaign goes back to 2013. A consumer study conducted that year laid the foundation for what would become the first campaign to use behaviour change principles and social marketing for species conservation. The survey identified one of the primary groups of rhino horn users as wealthy urban males aged between 35 and 55 who are driven by “emotional” motivators - their beliefs that rhino horn shows status, detoxifies the body and cures hangovers.

Developed in collaboration with PSI/Vietnam by combining insights from the 2013 survey and local focus groups, the Chi Campaign invokes the Vietnamese concept of inner strength and the power of will (or “chi”) to promote the idea that success and respect come from within, not from a piece of horn. This campaign complements TRAFFIC’s work with Viet Nam’s Ministry of Health addressing “functional” motivators for using rhino horn, e.g. reducing fever or curing cancer.

Since its launch on World Rhino Day 2014, the Chi Campaign has been rolled out in Viet Nam’s biggest cities through outdoor billboards, Chi-themed networking and lifestyle events, and, a forum for discussing and learning about Chi. A short Chi-themed video featuring prominent figures in Viet Nam, including the internationally-renowned designer Khai Silk, LUALA CEO Do Ngoc Minh and composer and producer Huy Tuan, is in production.

The signing of a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the largest business association in the country, marked one of the biggest accomplishments of the Chi Campaign’s first year. Through this partnership, the Chi Campaign has reached businesses, and their wealthy urban male employees, across the country through specially designed materials and workshops that promote the integration of wildlife protection into corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices.

Already the MoU has led to the training of 29 VCCI master trainers in social marketing and CSR, equipping them to bring the business community into the fight against the illegal trade and consumption of endangered species, especially rhinos. These trainers will integrate the Chi message about CSR into at least 100 workshops through December 2015, creating a ripple effect that spreads Chi to enterprises and business leaders across the country.

We’ve reached some of these business leaders directly through a Chi-themed bike ride event held in collaboration with VCCI’s Da Nang branch. Over 100 business leaders participated, spreading the Chi message as they rode through the city in their Chi t-shirts and helmets.

TRAFFIC has also held a capacity building workshop for 26 high-level VCCI staff about the importance of wildlife and their role in protecting endangered species, especially rhinos, by sharing what they learned with their colleagues via official VCCI communication channels and informal face-to-face discussions.

With year one of the Chi Campaign complete, TRAFFIC has set bigger and more refined goals for our second year. Guided by insights from our first baseline survey (completed in January 2015), future campaign efforts will continue to utilise channels established in year one while also developing more creative and innovative ways to influence rhino horn consumers. We will focus on strengthening partnerships to find Chi ambassadors and role models who will fully implement our CSR guidelines for wildlife protection. By consistently incorporating lessons learned, we will continue to improve the Chi Campaign while also building a structure to apply behaviour change principles to demand reduction work for other endangered species. With an effective strategy to tackle demand, we can complement efforts to combat supply and transport of endangered species.

To celebrate World Rhino Day, and the one-year anniversary of the Chi Campaign, TRAFFIC built SRI’s Nail it for Rhinos theme into a special reception for VIPs from embassies, conservation NGOs, the Vietnamese government, and our Chi target audience. By clipping their nails and signing TRAFFIC’s life-size rhino model, those attending helped spread the message that rhino horn is made of the same material as human nails, and that they refuse to use, gift or accept rhino horn.


We are very grateful to the UK governent’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, which awarded c. £289,075 for this work. Save the Rhino has added £30,000 from our own core funds for the 26-month-long project.